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Not All Milks Moo

The question nowadays isn’t “got milk?” but “what kinds of milk do you got?” The most popular milk remains traditional dairy cow’s milk. Approximately 500 million metric tons of dairy milk was produced in 2018, with America representing the second largest producing country (around 100 metric tons) and the second largest consuming nation (nearly 21.8 metric tons).

Those numbers may seem massive; however, USDA statistics reveal America’s per capita dairy milk consumption has not shown an annual increase since 1985. Non-dairy milk sales, however, are on the rise. According to Nielsen research, non-dairy milk sales have risen 23% in the past four years. Still, dairy milk holds a commanding lead in sales: $12 billion to non-dairy’s $1.8 billion in 2019.

There are several options and plenty of pros for each  – so whether you are choosing a milk based on dietary needs or lifestyle factors – there’s a milk option for everyone.  

Dairy Milk: When it comes to supplying calcium, high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, cow’s milk can’t be challenged by any of the plant-based milks. An iconic image of American life, dairy milk is less expensive than plant-based milks and is available in a wide variety of types (whole, 2%, 1% and nonfat) and flavors. Organic dairy milk, moreover, offers the benefits from not being treated with antibodies.

Lactose-Free Milk: This dairy drink provides a very similar nutritional profile to regular milk as well as having a pretty similar texture and taste. This is because it is cow’s milk only with the addition of the enzyme, lactase, which breaks down the sugar lactose in dairy milk. Consequently, lactose-free milk doesn’t cause digestive issues for lactose intolerant people (which numbers nearly 40% nationally and 70% worldwide). Lactose-free milk can also taste sweeter due to its free glucose. 

Almond Milk: In its unsweetened version, almond milk has about 80% fewer calories than regular dairy milk. Almond milk, which ranks as the best-selling non-dairy milk, features other health benefits. It is lower in sugar, potassium and phosphorus than dairy milk and has no cholesterol or saturated fats along with being high in helpful omega fatty acids). Almond milk is naturally lactose-free and lacks the proteins that create milk allergies. 

Oat Milk: Fast rising among non-dairy milk, oat milk has a creamy texture because it contains some soluble fibers. Fiber also helps to slow down your digestion so you feel full longer and it can stabilize your blood sugar levels too. Oat milk, when made from gluten-free oats, is fine for people who have lactose, soya, and nuts allergies. Additionally, oat milk makes for a healthier planet. It requires ten times less land than dairy milk needs; it uses 1/8 the amount of water that almond milk does and emits less CO2 than soy milk. 

Hemp Milk: Another plant-based milk increasing in popularity is hemp milk. It is a complete plant protein that is rich in phosphorus, potassium and zinc along with having a great ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats. Hemp milk does not, however, contain cannabis’ psychoactive qualities. Lactose and gluten-free, hemp milk also is fine for those allergic to nuts, tree, and soy allergies (unlike soy milk, cashew milk, coconut milk and almond milk). Furthermore, it typically has fewer carbs compared to oat milk and rice milk.

Coconut Milk: While coconut milk has a slightly high fat count, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconuts can improve a person’s cholesterol levels. Coconut milk generally is low in calories and several studies have found that coconut milk could reduce inflammation, decrease ulcer size and fight viruses and bacteria that cause infections. Since coconuts aren’t actually nuts, coconut milk drink (which is different from canned coconut milk) is fine for people with nut allergies. 

Soy Milk: Nutritionally, soy milk is the plant-based milk that most closely compares to cow’s milk; however, it has fewer calories than dairy milk along with being low in saturated fat. A superb source of complete protein, soy milk includes all nine essential amino acids and can serve to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Another notable health benefit is that soy milk contains disease-fighting isoflavones, which has been shown to lower risks of prostate cancer. 

Rice Milk: The most hypoallergenic of all milk products is rice milk, which is good for celiacs, lactose intolerants, and vegans. It has the least amount of fat among the milk alternatives among the dairy milk alternatives – and all of its fat is unsaturated – along with holding more of the significant antioxidants, manganese and selenium, than its plant-based rivals. Naturally sweet, rice milk is high in carbohydrates but free of cholesterol. Furthermore, rice bran is nutrient-rich while brown rice is loaded with all the essential B vitamins, although some vitamins are lost during rice milk processing.

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